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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Smoke On

"Wow, I've never heard anyone argue against marijuana legalization," remarked a co-worker.

"Do you hang out with a lot of potheads?" I asked him.

When the discussion of pot and pot legalization comes up, I quickly find myself being a very unpopular person.

"You've been brainwashed, man. Brainwashed by government propaganda."

Right, dude. Most of my objections to pot legalization come from those "the terrorist will win" commericals, or the other commercial where the potheads run over the little girl on a bike.

No, I don't think pot should be legalized. Yes, I think that smoking pot is a waste of time. I don't think that it's the worst thing in the world, or that it's addictive, or that if you do it you'll eventually start doing heroin. I just think that all things being equal, I'd rather not do it, and I just don't see any good reason to do it. (That, by the way, is an important point. When you're trying to convince someone to take action for something, the burden of proof is on the person arguing for the action, not the default position, or inaction.)

I think the argument that it aids creativity is basically bullshit. The only type of artistic culture that pot has ever aided is pot culture--taking drugs to make music to take drugs to, as it were. I bet Cheech and Chong is hilarious when you're stoned.

And guess what else? I've never gotten high before. "Dude, you don't know what you're missing! How can you argue against something you've never tried?"

This is a real question I was asked tonight.

"Have you ever smoked crack?" I replied.

"You can't compare crack with weed," he said.

"I'm not, I'm just saying that you're using flawed logic. If you've never tried crack, how do you know it's not really awesome? Would you try it if someone told you it was good?"

"Crack isn't the same as weed. Weed is natural, it comes from the earth."

"Are you even listening to me? I'm talking about the logic you're using."

"I'm not using logic, man. I'm using weed logic."

"I can't believe you just said that."

Here is why pot will never be legalized: the government has a duty to stability and the safety of its citizens. The government will never, never approve laws that promote altered states of consciousness. Drinking alcohol is legal, yes. Getting drunk is as close to illegal as it can get in this country without causing riots. Public intoxication is illegal. Driving under the influence is illegal. The only legal states of altered consciousness, in fact, are those that have been approved for medical purposes--which of course roots up that whole discussion.

Briefly, I think that in most situations where pot could be used for medical applications, there are other, less recreational drugs that could be substituted for it. That is not to say that marijuana is without its medicinal benefits, because it does offer a good deal of relief to cancer patients, glaucoma patients, AIDS victims, and etc. It is, however, a slippery slope.

Here's my addition to why I don't think it should be:

Having never gotten high, I can't say it's true that I've never gotten drunk. I've gotten drunk a lot. I've experienced levels of inebriation that venture into Jim Belushidom. But still, somehow, I've never smoked, rolled, tripped, or spaced on any illegal drug. There's something about drugs being illegal that keep a large amount of people from doing them. Legalization will almost surely introduce a larger number of people to pot and drugs in general. Does the US really need another vice?

I'm not saying that our current drug laws are great, or that they're even effective. A plurality of the 2 million-plus prisoners in jails across the US are there for drug law violations. The US is losing (has lost?) a very expensive war on drugs, and in the mean time, if you've got two drug priors and you get caught with a joint, they're going to lock you up and throw away the key. It's just a bit over the top.

On a personal level, I make it a point to try to do the best I can in any given situation. I make it a point to have a reason for doing any of the things that I do--even if the reason is that I want to enjoy myself. When I think about the figures that I admire most--athletes, writers, artists, political figures, etc.--I think about what it will take for me to gain the qualities in them that I respect most, and what it will take for me to eventually reach the places that they've reached. And then I think about pot, and I think about getting drunk off my ass every weekend, and I think about sitting around watching crappy sitcoms, and I think about the scores of things that I could be doing that aren't the worst thing in the world, but that don't really have a purpose, and aren't really going to help me do anything. And I think--why bother?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Roll a j and get high

4:48 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Anecdotal piece of evidence to add to your "Weed: Legal or No?" dossier:

Everytime I let someone listen to the music I've made, they CONSISTENTLY point out certain songs as being especially good. Without exception, they are the songs I made while high.

Anyway, this all goes back to our discussion on pragmatism, and the basic question is whether weed does more societal damage as illegal (drug running, cost of prosecution, incarceration etc) or as legal (decreased productivity, apathy, another vice, more stoner movies). A solid case could be made either way.

And my favorite retort to the "It's natural man!" argument: So is poison ivy.

5:04 PM  

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